Ether Drift Experiments & Aberration & Relationality vs. Relativity

Wolfgang G. Gasser

Original posts can be found via

Special Relativity overthrown? 1999-08-29

The most precise ether drift experiment ever performed (A. Brillet and J. L. Hall, Improved Laser Test of the Isotropy of Space Phys. Rev. Lett. 42 549-552, 1979) has shown the existence of two ether drift components.

The first component of around 16 m/s was declared to be smaller than the error estimation (around 20 m/s) despite the fact that it had the expected sinusoidal signature of an ether drift resulting from the earth's movement around the sun.

The second component was even much larger (around 190 m/s) and had the signature of an ether drift resulting from the earth's rotation.

Brillet and Hall wrote (p.550-551):

"To discriminate between this persistent spurious signal (17-Hz amplitude at 2f) and any genuine 'ether' effect, we made measurements for 12 or 24 sidereal hours. ... The lack of any significant signal or day dependence allows us to perform an overall average. This final result of our experiment is a null 'ether' drift of 0.13+-0.22 Hz, which represents a fractional frequency shift of (1.5 2.5) ∙ 10-15."

For someone who like me has been looking for empirical evidence of these two ether-drift components, the results of Brillet and Hall cannot be an accident but must be considered as a complete refutation of Lorentz invariance (constancy of c).

My theory predicts in the case of the Brillet-Hall-experiment an ether drift of 205 m/s (59% of the sidereal rotation speed of 356 m/s at Boulder, Colorado) and a second component of 13 m/s resulting from the movement relative to the sun.

The idea at basis is very simple: the effect on ether and ether drift is proportional to the mass and inversely proportional to the square of the distance (like gravity).

Relevant text of Bruce Harvey (explaining the principle of weighted averages which is at the basis not only of his but also of my theory): The idea of Stasis

Special Relativity overthrown? 1999-08-29

 jeff wiel:

 A null result means they did not find an ether drift.

There is a difference between a real null result and a result which is only declared to be a null result. In the abstract of the paper Brillet and Hall write: "We found a fractional length change Δl/l = (1.5 2.5) ∙ 10-15, with the expected p2(cosθ) signature".

Think about the meaning of a sinusoidal signal with frequency f and amplitude A with error range ΔA and assume that ΔA becomes as big as or even bigger than A.

Special Relativity overthrown? 1999-09-01

 jeff wiel:

We've got a residual error of 1.5 2.5 ∙ 1015. To start with, 1.5 2.5 goes through zero. It's a very small and almost random error. There are errors in scientific experiments, from noise, artifacts and random and quantization errors in the equipment.

13 m/s is 43 parts in 109 of c. The reported error is 2.5 parts in 1015.

My description of the experiment was probably too short. The experiment is based on the fact that an ether drift of v leads to a change in the wave length ΔL of a laser (depending on direction):

ΔL/L = 0.5 v2 / c2   →   v = √(2 c2 ∙ ΔL/L)

The official result (with the signature of a sun induced ether drift) was:

ΔL/L = 1.5 2.5 ∙ 10-15   →   v = 16.4 m/s 21.2 m/s

The "persistent spurious signal" (with the signature of an earth rotation induced drift) was:

ΔL/L = 2 ∙ 10-13   →   v = 190 m/s

Do you think that Brillet and Hall would have presented their results in the same way if they had attempted to find experimental evidence of a theory predicting this result:

1)      Earth rotation induced ether drift of 205 m/s

2)      Sun induced ether drift of 13 m/s

And that's exactly what my theory predicts. I would say that an experimental confirmation which goes against the beliefs of the experimenters is much more valuable than one which agrees with their beliefs.

Special Relativity overthrown? 1999-09-05

I know that historically aberration was the most important argument against any dragged ether theory. If the speed of light changes then light cannot travel in a straight line in all inertial frames.

My solution is that both the reference frame where c is constant in all directions and propagation directions of electromagnetic waves and inertial movements depend on the presence of matter in a way which can be calculated by weighted averages.

Weighted averages are well explained by Bruce Harvey in: The idea of Stasis

Bruce Harvey's theory is essentially a one component ether theory. He calls the ether stasis and writes:

"Taking a broader view we find that stasis is a vector field existing throughout all space and varying from point to point as we move around the solar system, between the stars and from galaxy to galaxy.

Stasis is dependent on an inverse square law just as gravity also depends on the inverse square law."

In my theory there is also a second ether component which is dependent on the inverse distant law just as gravitational potential. This ether component can be called inersis.

That is a very elegant solution insofar as at the basis only one single function is needed: proportional to the mass and inversely proportional to the distance square. The function itself is relevant to stasis and gravity field, its integral (inversely proportional to distance) relevant to inersis and gravitational potential.

For the Brillet-Hall-experiment only stasis is relevant. The sun induced ether drift of 13m/s can be explained in this way: on Earth surface, gravitational attraction is 9.8 m/s2 by Earth; attraction by the Sun is only 1/1660 of this value [i.e. 0.0059 m/s2]. With a relative speed of 30 km/s, this results in 30 km/s / (1660+1) = 18 m/s as an approximation. This result would be valid on the surface if the Earth's whole mass were concentrated in its center.

Simple numerical integration over the whole Earth taking into account its density distribution (the sun can be considered a point mass because of its distance) results in a Sun induced stasis ether drift of around 13 m/s on Earth.

The Earth-rotation-induced stasis-drift at Boulder, where the Brillet-Hall-experiment took place:

1)      Sidereal rotation speed at the equator is about 464 m/s

2)      at Boulder:  cos 40 ∙ 464 m/s = 356 m/s

3)      59% of 356 m/s = 210 m/s

The 59% is the numerical result of weighted averages if one uses the currently accepted density distribution of the Earth.

Tom Roberts:

Why would one expect such a tiny "ether drift"? Note also that if there were indeed an ether which drifted so slowly with respect to the earth that stellar aberration would behave VERY differently from actual observations (assuming the usual properties of the "ether").

Aspden (Phys. Lett. _85A_#8,9 (1981), p411) has interpreted their residual 17 Hz signal [ΔL/L = 2 ∙ 10-13] as due to the acceleration of their mirror due to the rotation of the earth.

If correctness of Special Relativity is assumed, then this residual signal (corresponding to an ether drift of around 200 m/s) must be a 'persistent spurious signal' and must be explained away somehow. But the explanation by an Earth rotation induced acceleration of mirrors seems not very reasonable to me.

So let's repeat the experiment on the equator where this explanation does not work and where my theory predicts an even stronger 'persistent spurious signal' (corresponding to an ether drift of 59% of 464 m/s = 270 m/s).

Special Relativity overthrown? 1999-09-06

 Tom Roberts:

You ignored my important question: What does your theory predict for stellar aberration, and how does it compare to actual observations. This is, of course, the downfall of every dragged-ether theory so far.

I did not ignore your question, but my answer was probably too short. Aberration has always been at the center of my reasonings.

In my Relationality Theory there are two (non-material) ether components: stasis and inersis. Stasis on Earth, like gravity, is influenced primarily by the mass of the Earth, whereas inersis, like gravitational potential, is influenced much more by our and other galaxies.

In order to explain correctly the 'relativistic' Mercury perihelion shift with inersis, one must assume that on the Earth's surface the total lost gravitational potential is around 450'000 km2/s2. Only 63 km2/s2 are caused by the Earth [corresponding to escape velocity of 11.2 km/s].

So the Earth's effect on inersis on its surface is only around 63/450000 = 0.0014%. See also: Inertia, Mach's principle, frame dragging and galaxy rotation

Inersis is relevant to all inertial motions in empty space, including the motion (direction) of photons. The assumption, that stasis [1/r2 dependence on mass] is relevant to the speed and inersis [1/r dependence] to the direction of photons, leads to the conclusion that wave fronts break apart. Without the quantum hypothesis this conclusion would have completely refuted such a two component ether.

As already mentioned, inersis can explain the 'relativistic' perihelion shift of planets. It results from the rotation of the Sun. The same effect is also responsible for the fact that galaxies rotate faster than they should according to classical mechanics or General Relativity (without the ad-hoc-hypothesis of unobservable matter).

I called my theory Relationality because a physical theory where only spatial distances and their temporal derivatives matter can reasonably be called a relational theory. I also want to stress continuity from Relativity to Relationality.

Special Relativity overthrown? 1999-09-06

Tom Roberts :

So why do you avoid discussing stellar aberration?

Maybe I underestimate the involved problems and overestimate modern physicists' previous knowledge of them.

Tom Roberts :

Stellar aberration is the observation that stars trace out little ellipses relative to a telescope fixed on earth (equatorial mount to cancel the earth's rotation). These ellipses are approximately 20 arc-seconds in diameter, and have a period of 1 year. The displacements are observed to lie in the forward direction of earth's motion around the sun, and dragged-ether theories predict it to lie in the backward direction. SR predicts it correctly.

I've never seen a theory predicting aberration displacements in backward direction. A normal fully-dragged-ether theory gives no aberration at all. Partially-dragged-ether theories result also in forward displacements.

On a motorcycle the sound of a plane seems to come from a displaced direction, whereas in a bus (dragged air) there seems to be no such displacement. But in fact the propagation direction changes when the sound enters the bus.

Relative to an observer on the motorcycle the propagation velocity of the sound is different from normal speed of sound. In the bus however, the propagation velocity of the sound is exactly the speed of sound. The observer on the motorcycle has both aberration and ether drift, whereas an observer in the bus has neither of them.

On Earth however, we have aberration but we have no (major) ether drift. Is it possible to imagine such a result? Yes, it is. If sound propagation is prevented from changing its direction when entering the bus, the result is aberration with no ether drift.

In my theory the speed of photons is constant relative to stasis, whereas the propagation direction depends on inersis. Inersis on Earth depends only at [in the order of] 0.014% on the velocity of Earth, therefore stellar aberration results in almost (around 99.986% of) the classical value.

Ether drift of 200m/s detected by Brillet & Hall 1999-09-09

Tom Roberts :

 Similar experiments have been done, with null results.

What is a null result? Would you consider c + 200 m/s in one direction and c - 200 m/s in the opposite direction a null result?

If one interprets the still unexplained "persistent spurious signal" found by Brillet and Hall as ether drift, then the velocity of the ether relative to the experimenters was around 200 m/s. It is therefore misleading to claim that the constancy of c has been established by Brillet and Hall to a higher accuracy 1 part in 1.5 ∙ 106 [i.e. 200 m/s in 300'000 km/s].

In any case, it is theoretically possible to exactly synchronize clocks from the center of the Earth. Therefore we can carry out one-way experiments of the speed of light.

A simple dragged-ether theory is one where the whole ether follows the Earth's center of gravity. This theory would entail that at the equator the speed of light from east to west is c + 464 m/s and in the opposite direction c - 464 m/s.

According to the most reasonable dragged-ether theory, it is not the center of gravity of a planet which drags the ether but every particle has an effect on the ether (proportional to the mass and inversely proportional to the distance square).

This theory predicts at the equator c + 270 m/s from east to west and c - 270 m/s from west to east. In case of 300 km distance, the signal from east to west needs almost 2 nanoseconds less time than the signal in the opposite direction.

I'm sure that such one-way experiments, if carried out, will show such time differences depending on direction and therefore confirm Brillet and Hall's "persistent spurious signal".

Ether drift of 200m/s detected by Brillet & Hall 1999-09-09

 Tom Roberts:

Cialdea reported that his experiment puts an upper limit of 0.9 m/s on any anisotropy in the speed of light. As I said before, his experiment really measures the round-trip speed of light, and this upper limit applies to that.

Here a quote from a previous post of you (emphasis mine):

Cialdea, Lett. Nuovo Cimento 4#16, p821 (1972)

Cialdea mounted two He-Ne lasers 2 meters apart and parallel to each other on a rotatable table. The output of one hits a 45-degree mirror to direct it toward the other, where the two are combined with a 45-degree beam-splitter/combiner, and the combined beam goes into a fast photodiode whose output is displayed on an oscilloscope (the lasers are perpendicular to the light path). BECAUSE OF THE MULTIPLE MODES OF THE LASERS, THE INTERFERENCE PATTERN ON THE OSCILLOSCOPE IS A COMPLICATED FUNCTION OF TIME. As long as the phase relationships among the modes remain stable, the pattern won't change. As the table is rotated the pattern does not change, and he deduced a limit of 0.9 m/sec on any anisotropy in the speed of light.

It seems highly improbable to me that in such an unclear way it should be possible to deduce a "limit of 0.9 m/sec on any anisotropy in the speed of light". Interference between two different laser sources is a very complicated problem.


What is a null result? Would you consider c + 200 m/s in one direction and c - 200 m/s in the opposite direction a null result?

Tom Roberts:

No experiment can measure such velocities independent of clock synchronization. It is quite possible to select a clock synchronization which would yield results close to those. This, of course, has no cosmic significance.

The principle of Michelson-Morley-like experiments is older than Lorentz Ether Theory or Special Relativity. Suppose that the ether would exactly follow the Sun in the whole planetary system. Then aberration would behave as it does; the Earth would move at v = 30 km/s in the ether and Brillet and Hall's experiment would give this result:

ΔL/L = 0.5 v2 / c2 = 0.5 ∙ 10-8

Since it cannot be denied that the so-called "persistent spurious signal" which had the signature of an Earth rotation induced ether drift was around ΔL/L = 2 ∙ 10-13 it follows by simple logic that such a classical ether moves at v = 190 m/s.

One should also take into account that this primary signal was more than two orders of magnitude stronger than the secondary signal (with the signature of a sun induced ether drift) which was declared the official result.

Tom Roberts:

Note that one-way speeds of c + v and c - v do NOT yield an isotropic round-trip speed, and theories yielding such a one-way speed of light are not members of the class of theories I discuss. They are also refuted by the very experiment you are discussing (Brillet and Hall).

I'm not talking about the class of ether theories you stick to but about common sense ether theories where there is no need for manipulation of coordinates leading to length contraction, time dilation and annulment of simultaneity. In any case, it is logically impossible that the Brillet & Hall experiment refutes its own result (an ether drift of around 200 m/s).

You must not confuse the fact, that all experiments have been interpreted in a way consistent with your ether theory class, with a refutation of all ether theories not belonging to that class.


It is therefore misleading to claim that the constancy of c has been established by Brillet and Hall to a higher accuracy 1 part in 1.5 ∙ 106 [i.e. 200 m/s in 300'000 km/s].

Tom Roberts:

Their limit on the round-trip speed of light is a few parts in 1015. That is the limit which is important.

Why do you hold back the "persistent spurious signal" [2 parts in 1013]?


In any case, it is theoretically possible to exactly synchronize clocks from the center of the Earth. Therefore we can carry out one-way experiments of the speed of light.

Tom Roberts:

To do that requires an underlying theory of how clocks operate when moving with respect to each other and w.r.t. any assumed ether.

Do you deny that in an inertial frame of reference the surface of a sphere can be synchronized from the center of the sphere? Do you think that different locations on the equator are not equivalent to each other with respect to clocks (in the long term)?

Tom Roberts:

Your "theoretical" synchronization method is equivalent to the method used by the GPS. If there were anisotropies as large as you claim then the few-centimeter accuracies achieved by differential GPS would not be possible. Ditto for the few-centimeter accuracies of the lunar laser ranging measurements.

Unfortunately I have information neither on GPS nor on the lunar laser ranging measurements. Nevertheless it seems highly improbable to me that these techniques depend on the one-way speed of light in such a way that deviations of less than 10-6 would give wrong results.

The ether drift of 270 m/s from east to west at the equator is a maximum.


The simplest dragged-ether theory is the one where the whole ether follows the earth's center of gravity.

Tom Roberts:

Such theories are refuted by observations of stellar aberration.

Dragged-ether theories had been refuted [via aberration] before the quantum nature of electromagnetic radiation was known. It is really very strange that almost nobody has noticed that in the meanwhile this refutation has been refuted itself.

To Tom Roberts - Entrainment 1999-09-11

 Tom Roberts:

Observations of stellar aberration rule out ether theories with entrainment.

A statement cannot be made true by continuously repeating it. You do not understand enough about dragged-ether theories to rely on yourself, so you only rely on authority. But it is always dangerous to rely on the authority of well-accepted dogmas. A dogma often remains a dogma even if the premises entailing the dogma as logical consequence have been abandoned long ago.

Maybe my previous explanations were not yet clear enough. Here a further attempt to explain why you are right only in the case of a mechanistic ether (constituting a material medium for classical waves).

Imagine that the center of our galaxy is at rest in an absolute 3-dimensional space and that our solar system has an absolute velocity of around 300 km/s. The assumption that purely inertial movements of bodies and photons follow straight lines in the absolute rest frame is certainly the most reasonable.

In order to change their direction, photons would have to exchange momentum with other particles.

The inexistence of a material medium, where electromagnetic radiation behaves like classical waves, makes it virtually impossible for photons with mass and momentum to change their direction in empty space, even if they try to stay in phase with their fellow photons.

Thus, when photons propagate from the Sun to the Earth, they always follow a straight line [in the assumed rest frame]. Nevertheless, the speed of photons can change in such a way that at first the photons move at c relative to the Sun, and near the Earth at c relative to the Earth.

If you think that this is unclear or wrong, please let me know why. But you should not continue to claim that aberration rules out all dragged-ether theories by simply ignoring the arguments.

Tom Roberts:

Entrainment in general has the difficulty of how the entrained ether merges with the un-entrained ether far from the earth.

That's not true in the case of an ether which is dragged by all particles proportional to their mass and inversely proportional to their distance square and which can easily be calculated by weighted averages.

Tom Roberts:

The lunar laser ranging program finds agreement with GR to an accuracy of a few centimeters, implying that if light really propagated in an entrained ether then the ether must be fully entrained out to the radius of the moon, and that seems unlikely. Similar thoughts about radar ranging of planets and spacecraft (Shapiro time delay) imply that the entrainment must extend out to the distance of these objects on the other side of the sun, and that is completely unreasonable (the ether is entrained by the earth but not the sun?).

All such arguments are only relevant to materialistic ether theories which imply that the dragged ether does change BOTH the velocity AND the direction of photons.

The velocity of photons is not really important to such measurements, because the measurements depend primarily on frequency comparisons which can be performed extremely precisely but which do not depend in a sensitive way on the one-way speed of light.

Ether drift of 200m/s detected by Brillet & Hall 1999-09-12


[Cialdea's experiment]

It seems highly improbable to me that in such an unclear way it should be possible to deduce a "limit of 0.9 m/sec on any anisotropy in the speed of light". Interference between two different laser sources is a very complicated problem.

Tom Roberts:

Then go read his paper.

I don't like to waste my time. I'm interested in the experiments with the best and most transparent techniques and not those with the lowest claimed anisotropy in the speed of light.

In an effort not to give ammunition to opponents of orthodoxy, many of these papers are much less simple and transparent than they could be.

In any case, it is always possible to make experiments which do not detect an ether drift. An ether drift of around 280 m/s is the maximum which can be detected on Earth (on the equator, at midnight, from east to west). But experiments taking place in the plane orthogonal to this drift would yield null results.


Why do you hold back the "persistent spurious signal" [2 parts in 1013]?

Tom Roberts:

Because the experimenters did, and I believe that they understand their systematic errors better than you or I. There are clearly many potential ways a "persistent spurious signal" can be generated when it is fixed in direction to their laboratory. At the few parts in 1015 level of their result it's amazing to me that their systematic errors weren't much larger...

They did not even try to explain this "persistent spurious signal". The main characteristic of Brillet & Hall is that unlike most other experiments it is able to detect an Earth rotation induced ether drift because the entire electro-optical system is rotated.

[Wrong statements concerning Jaseja et al. (Physical review, Vol.133, 2 March 1964, A1221) omitted]

In 1990, Hils and Hall (Improved Kennedy-Thorndike Experiment to Test Special Relativity) write in the abstract: "No variation has been found at the level of 2∙10-13."

This statement is equivalent to: "No ether drift in the order of 200 m/s has been found." That's not surprising because this experiment does not allow detecting an Earth rotation induced ether drift, which at Boulder, Colorado actually is around 200 m/s.

Nevertheless this statement clearly shows that improved versions of such experiments have not been able to provide "better" results. On the contrary, they have clearly shown that there are limitations on experimental confirmation of the most basic principle of Special Relativity.

Which contraction factor? 1999-09-15

In any case, somebody who takes seriously Cialdea's claimed sensitivity should not be taken seriously himself.

Drift of frequencies and optical systems (e.g. resulting from tiny temperature changes, magnetostriction, or acoustical vibrations) are general problems of such experiments.

Why Cialdea's experiment is called a one-way experiment, I don't really understand.

That the complicated interference pattern, resulting from the multiple modes of two lasers, did not change as the table was rotated, is certainly not enough to infer any limit on anisotropy in the speed of light.

On the one hand the "spurious signals" corresponding to ether drifts of 200m/s (Brillet and Hall) must be explained away by assuming Earth rotation induced mechanical distortions, and on the other hand the mechanical rotation of Cialdea's experimental table is assumed to have almost no disturbing effect.

To Tom Roberts - Entrainment 1999-09-16

 Tom Roberts:

How can the speed of a photon change so "at first the photons move at c relative to the Sun, and near the earth at c relative to the Earth" without changing direction IN YOUR ASSUMED ABSOLUTE SPACE? Remember that the sun and the earth have different velocities with respect to this "absolute space".

In an absolute space straight lines are clearly defined. Bodies can move on any straight light with variable speed, can't they?

Take absolute position of the Sun at time t. Take absolute position of the Earth at t + 8 minutes. Connect the two positions by a straight line. Assume that a photon moves during 8 minutes on exactly this straight line.

Tom Roberts:

Imagine a situation when the earth's velocity w.r.t. the sun is parallel to the sun's velocity with respect to "absolute space".

E.g. let us assume the Sun's velocity is V = 300 km/s and the Earth's velocity (8 minutes later) V + v = 330 km/s, both w.r.t. to absolute space and in exactly the same direction.

Tom Roberts:

A photon emitted from the sun toward the earth has no component of velocity in the common direction of their velocities w.r.t. "absolute space", ...

That is not true. The "absolute" velocity of the photon has two components, one consists of the V = 300 km/s of the Sun and the second of c = 300'000 km/s orthogonal to the first. W.r.t. absolute space, this results in the hypotenuse √(c2 + V2) of a right-angled triangle with c and V.

With respect to absolute space the angle between the propagation direction of the photon and the movement of the Sun is not orthogonal but is aberration shifted by the acute angle of the above triangle: angle = arctan[V/c] = 0.0573 deg = 206 arc-second [corresponding to aberration of 300 km/s].

This direction does not change when the photon near the Earth moves at c relative to the Earth. An approximation for the Earth's aberration angle is therefore

arctan[v/c] = arctan[(V+v)/c] - arctan[V/c] = 0.00573 deg = 20.6 arc-second

[i.e. aberration of 330 km/s minus aberration of 300 km/s results in aberration of 30 km/s].

Tom Roberts:

As soon as photons change directions in "absolute space", you've got a standard "dragged ether" theory which does not stand up to experiments....

Yes, but in order to change direction, photons would have to change transverse momentum. That's not possible in empty space.

To Tom Roberts - Entrainment 1999-09-17


An approximation for the earth's aberration angle is therefore

arctan[v/c] = arctan[(V+v)/c] - arctan[V/c] = 0.00573 deg = 20.6 arc-second

Tom Roberts:

Except that the earth travels with velocity V+v with respect to "absolute space", and the angle is actually larger than 206 arc-sec. You used an "absolute" angle for the sun but a relative angle for the earth that's nonsense.

You are right insofar as there is an aberration angle [of 206 + 20.6] between the Earth and absolute space, corresponding to the sum 300 km/s + 30 km/s of the Earth's and the Sun's velocities.

However, it is impossible for us detect the aberration resulting from the Sun's movement. If the Sun has a relative velocity of 300 km/s with respect to the center of our galaxy, then there is an aberration corresponding to 300 km/s (max. 206 arc-sec) w.r.t. to this center but we do not observe it.

So in our example we can detect aberration because it changes absolutely between 270 km/s and 330 km/s. The result is almost the same as a velocity change between -30 km/s and 30 km/s.


Yes, but in order to change direction, photons would have to change transverse momentum. That's not possible in empty space.

Tom Roberts:

So how do they change longitudinal momentum in empty space?

It is the speed of light relative to stasis which remains constant and stasis depends [according to 1/r2] on the movements of the surrounding masses (Mach's principle).

Tom Roberts:

Why is the direction they happen to be travelling in so special?

Why is a straight line so special?

Tom Roberts:

Let me attempt to summarize how I interpret your theory:

1)      there is an absolute space

2)      this absolute space affects only the direction of light rays, in that once a light ray is emitted it follows a straight line in the absolute space.

3)      the speed of a light ray w.r.t. absolute space is affected by nearby massive objects, and they go slower when nearer to more massive objects (but their direction in absolute space is not affected).

We are dealing with the crucial question whether aberration refutes all dragged-ether theories or not, and not with a theory.

None of your three points corresponds exactly to my theory. The first two agree with a simplified version ignoring the second ether component (inersis) and gravitation.

Because photons have mass and momentum, they are subject to gravitation in the same way as matter.

Your third point does not agree with my theory: The speed of light is always constant (apart from gravitation) w.r.t. to the averaged (inverse distance square law) movements of the surrounding masses; nothing goes slower.

Which contraction factor? 1999-09-18

Paul B. Andersen on GPS and ether drift of 30 km/s:

Now, consider how a position is calculated (rough principle). The satellites send out a signal with information about the time the signal was sent, and the position of the satellite when it was sent.

The receiver calculates its position by comparing the arrival times of the signals (if two signals with the same time stamp are received simultaneously, it must be mid-way between the satellites - etc.)

It should thus be obvious that if the transmission speed of the two signals were different, this would lead to an error in the position. As the Earth rotates, the error in position will reverse. It would be a periodic systematic error with period one solar day.

Due to the "reversal effect" explained above, this error could not be removed by synchronization of the clocks. And the size of the error?

It will be ca. d∙v/c, where d is the distance between the satellites, and v the 30 km/s [speed of earth w.r.t. sun]. As there are 6 orbital planes, the angle between the planes are 60 degrees. The height of the orbit is 20200 km, e.g. the radius is ca. 26500 km. This means that a "typical" distance between the satellites will be the same, 26500 km. That means that the error would be ca. 2.65 km!

As should be well know, the GPS system does not give a periodic systematic error in the position by kilometres.

According to the stasis thesis (a dragged ether depending on the inverse distance square law), the Sun induced ether drift at a distance of 4.2 Earth radii from its center is around

30 km/s ∙ aEarth / (aEarth + aSun) = 310 m/s

where aEarth (acceleration of the satellites by the earth) is 0.556 m/s2 and aSun (acceleration by the sun) 0.0059 m/s2.

For signals from a satellite to the Earth the mean ether drift is smaller (around 130 m/s) because the drift decreases from 310 m/s at the satellites to 13 m/s on the surface of the earth.

The time a signal needs from one satellite to its neighbor [with d = 26500 km] can be affected by this ether drift (310 m/s) resulting a in maximal time difference of

MaxDiff = d /(c-v) - d /(c+v) = 2∙d∙v / c2 = 1.8 ∙ 10-7 sec

That should be a testable effect.

But in any case, a Michelson-Morley experiment on a GPS satellite would also show an ether drift of around 3.9 km/s which is the speed of the satellite relative to the center of the earth.

Therefore a signal from a satellite to the next in front needs around 2 microseconds more than to the satellite behind ["officially" explained as Sagnac effect].

Ether drift of 200m/s detected by Brillet & Hall 1999-09-19

The handling of the "persistent spurious signal" in Brillet and Hall's paper is rather strange:

"The useful sensitivity of our experiment is limited mainly by two factors: drift of the interferometer (~-50 Hz/sec) and a spurious nearly sinusoidal frequency shift at the table rotation. This latter 'sine-wave" signal was typically about 200 Hz peak to peak, and arises from a varying gravitational stretching of the interferometer, if the rotation axis is not perfectly vertical. The centrifugal stretching due to rotation is -10 kHz at f = (1 turn)/(13 sec) and implies a compliance ~10 times that of the bulk spacer material.

We found that taking data in blocks of N table rotations (N ≈ 850) is helpful in minimizing The average result is an amplitude of cos2θ of ≈ 17 Hz (2 10-13) with an approximately constant phase in the laboratory.

To discriminate between this persistent spurious signal (17-Hz amplitude at 2f) and any genuine 'ether' effect, we made measurements for 12 or 24 sidereal hours."

Nowhere in the paper, they try to explain the "persistent spurious signal". This has led some readers into confusing the "persistent spurious signal" [17 Hz] with the spurious signal arising from the "varying gravitational stretching of the interferometer" [200 Hz].

Because (most) Lorentz-invariance experiments have been performed in a Relativity framework, it is clear that the small but not too small effects predicted by my simple common sense theory must have been declared spurious signals when actually detected.

Tom Roberts:

And, of course, your selection of experiments is incomplete: Krishner et al and Cialdea both rule out an "ether drift" as large as 280 m/s.

Cialdea's pseudo-experiment is incapable to rule out anything. And Krisher's experiment is not inconsistent with my predictions. Test of the isotropy of the one-way speed of light using hydrogen-maser frequency standards, Krisher et al. Phys. Rev. D, Vol. 42, 2, 15 July 1990:

"During five rotations of the Earth, we compared the phases of two hydrogen-maser frequency standards separated by 21 km using an ultrastable fiber optics link. Because of the unique design of the experiment, it is possible to derive independent limits on anisotropies that are linear and quadratic in the velocity of the Earth with respect to a preferred frame. Assuming that the anisotropies have not been partially canceled by systematic environmental effects on the instrumentation, the best limits that can be inferred from the data are Δc/c < 3.5 x 10-7 and Δc/c < 2 ∙ 10-8 for linear and quadratic dependencies, respectively, on the velocity of the Earth with respect to the cosmic microwave background."

Krisher's experiment does not allow detecting an earth rotation induced ether drift and Δc/c < 3.5 ∙ 10-7 corresponds to Δc < 105 m/s. I must admit that I do not know the theoretical considerations leading to "linear and quadratic dependencies".

To Tom Roberts - Entrainment 1999-09-17


James, I think you are the one who made the original claim that stellar aberration disproves all entrainment theories.

J. Carr:

You are wrong, twice.  That was not the claim, and I did not make the claim that was being addressed in this thread. You will note that [Wolfgang] said explicitly that dragged ether does not give what is seen, and that you have to add something unrelated to ether drag to change the direction of the photon from what a dragged ether theory gives.  This magical something is never specified or quantified in any way, just invoked.

The word ether has too many meanings. Maybe it would be better to avoid it. But the problem with new words (such as stasis and inersis) is that most physicists refuse to accept them and simply say that statements containing such words have no meaning at all.

One essential ether property is its state of motion [by analogy with air as the medium for sound]. I think it makes sense to distinguish (at least) between the following ether types:

1a) Static  mechanistic ether

1b) Dragged mechanistic ether

2)  Lorentz-style ether

3)  Relational ether (non-mechanistic dragged ether)

4)  Space or space-time with physical properties

The only property of a relational ether is its state of motion. It is a reasonable assumption that light speed is constantly c. But relative to what? A relational ether is an answer to this question based on a quantified version of Mach's principle:


Here a further attempt to summarize:

1)    Assume absolute simultaneity.

2)    Assume a Galilean inertial frame of reference (FoR).

3)    To every moving object (particle) a velocity vector can be ascribed with respect to FoR.

4)    Take a point x (at rest with respect to FoR).

5)    Calculate the weighted average at x of the velocity vectors of all surrounding moving objects. The vectors are weighted according to the well-known inverse distance square law, i.e. proportional to mass and 1/r2.

6)    The resulting vector indicates the velocity of the relational ether at x with respect to FoR.

7)    For every point in space we can calculate the velocity vector of the relational ether with respect to FoR.

8)    Light moves everywhere at c relative to this relational ether.

9)    Because only velocity differences are relevant the choice of FoR has no physical effects (this is Galilei invariance at another level).

The relational ether based on the inverse distance square law is called stasis. In my previous posts I have given several quantitative predictions such as:

1)     A stasis drift resulting from the Earth's movement around the sun of around 13 m/s

2)     A stasis of around 60% of the sidereal rotation speed of the Earth (resulting in a drift of around 270 m/s at the equator)

3)     An ether drift of around 3.9 km/s within GPS satellites

Stasis influences only the speed of light. In order to explain aberration we have two possibilities:

1)     We assume an absolute space (at rest) and assume that photons (and all other inertial motions in the absence of gravitation) follow straight lines w.r.t. the absolute space.

2)     We introduce the inersis concept (a relational ether depending on the inverse distance law, relevant to inertial motions and the direction of photons).

Sagnac & relativity 2000-03-09

Luc Bourhis:

Together with the existence of star aberration, this could be explained by ether drag by the Earth's gravitational field and verified by any of the aforementioned experiments on board satellites, or on the Earth by such experiments sensitive enough to detect the effects of Earth's rotation velocity.

Stellar aberration is inconsistent with a simple "ether drag by the Earth's gravitational field".

There are two obvious hypotheses for an "ether drag by the Earth's gravitational field":

1)    The whole ether follows the Earth's gravity center.

2)    The ether is dragged by all matter systems (particles) proportionally to their mass and inversely to the distance square (between ether point and ether-dragging particle).

The first hypothesis results in an Earth rotation induced ether drift of exactly the (sidereal) rotation velocity (356 m/s for the experiment of Brillet and Hall). In the case of a Michelson-Gale experiment, the result is the one which Michelson and Gale claim to have found.

The second hypothesis (based on weighted averages of all "ether drags") results (apart from a non-negligible Sun induced component) in around 60% of the Earth's rotation speed (200 m/s for Brillet & Hall). The prediction for a Michelson-Gale experiment is the prediction of Special Relativity in case of an Earth rotation speed of only 60% of its actual value.

The hypothesis of a (relational) ether dragged by all matter according to the inverse distance square law predicts for a Sagnac experiment over the equator not the light speeds c + 464 m/s from east to west and c - 464 m/s from west to east as SR does, but around c + 270 m/s from east to west and c - 270 m/s from west to east.

Mark Samokhvalov:

So you believe that Ether is dragged not only by the translation of Earth around the Sun but also by the rotation of Earth around its axis, do you?

On the surface of the Earth the ether is only partially (about 40%) dragged by the Earth's surface [due to the principle of weighted averages].

A dragged ether has been ruled out only for theoretical reasons (based on certain premises), and not because of experimental refutation! I know of no CONVINCING experiments, which disprove such an ether.

One can also easily understand why Special Relativity works as an excellent approximation. Up to a distance of around 260'000 km, the ether is primarily dragged by the Earth, whereas in most regions of our solar systems it almost fully follows the (movement of the) Sun.

Relative and absolute in Relationality 2000-03-29

Relationality is a rather simple alternative to Special and General Relativity explaining

1)    Michelson-Morley

2)    Brillet and Hall (insofar as the experiment is inconsistent with SR)

3)    non-classical perihelion shifts of planets

4)    dark matter problem

5)    mass-energy equivalence (absolute gravitational-potential energy)

6)    gravitational time dilation

7)    "apparent" actions-at-a-distance

essentially with one basic function alone: proportional to the mass and inversely proportional to the distance square. Even if the theory did not agree with reality, it would constitute a genuine example of a Prinzipientheorie (i.e. the contrary of a theory based on many ad-hoc assumptions).

In Relationality mass is not only responsible for gravitational acceleration and gravitational potential (integral of the basic function), but also leads to the creation of two preferred frames (stasis and inersis) at every point in space.

Light speed is isotropic only with respect to the stasis frame. Stationary objects on the equator have at midnight an absolute speed of around 280 m/s with respect to stasis. Nevertheless the stasis vector field is certainly not absolute, because it is the result of frame-dragging of all masses according to our basic function.

The only serious problem of the concept relativistic mass results from the fact that kinetic energy is as relative in Relativity as it is in classical physics. In Relationality, kinetic energy and relativistic mass are absolute insofar as they depend on the absolute velocity with respect to inersis (and stasis, especially near c).

The inersis vector field depends again on all moving masses. The vector at every point in space results from the superposition of all drags weighted according to the integral of our basic function (i.e. according to lost gravitational potential).

So Relationality is based on arguments of the "relative motion" crowd and on arguments of the "absolute motion" folks.

Apology to Brillet and Hall 2000-04-02

Brillet and Hall have done an excellent work and I'm still optimistic that in future it will be considered not only the first experiment having shown the experimental limitations of Relativity, but also the first experiment suggesting the superiority of Relationality (which predicts an 'ether drift' of 13 m/s due to the sun's movement with respect to the Earth and a second drift of 205 m/s (at Boulder, Colorado) due to the Earth's rotation.

See also: Inertia, Mach's principle, frame dragging and galaxy rotation

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